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After an introduction to the topic giving a global overview and a description of what happens to our recycling waste, the attendees gathered into groups to explore the issues of: Reduce, Re-use / Repurpose, Recycle and Influencing.

The ideas which came up were many and varied, some useful, others amusing! Well. you can’t be serious all the time!

Here are some of them:

  1. REDUCE:  in the home, use glass for containers and wood for things such as chopping boards and stirring spoons;  instead of clingfilm use plates and saucers to cover bowls in the fridge or beeswax cloths available on-line or a self sealing lid from; when shopping choose loose fruit and veg where possible and buy glass bottles of liquids instead of plastic ones.( e.g. fizzy water, cooking oil)

  2. REUSE: many uses for the empty lemonade bottle, from reuse as a water bottle or freezing your crop of apple juice, to using in the garden as a bird scarer, a waterer, a plastic plant collar or a bird seed scoop. Similarly, gardeners found uses for the plastic punnets too, as seed trays.Some multi sectioned trays would make good paint palletes, or to store store small items separately in drawers. The plastic straws could find a new life in craft work or annoy the adults as pea/lentil shooters! Or even make percussion instruments.

  3. RECYCLE:  this group had a bagful of plastic junk to sort into the relevant purple or grey bin. Some puzzles here! John was on hand to provide a leaflet from  North Herts. District Council and some good advice–if in doubt, throw it out (purple bin). Best not to contaminate a load for recycling. Basically, it’s the shape that matters rather than the plastic ID number–containers are OK.

  4. INFLUENCING: this group raised some interesting ideas which we could investigate and take forward, either individually or in a working party.

  5. Social media–share your ideas and discoveries of alternatives to plastic products. Join the facebook group ‘plasticfreefantastic’

  6. When shopping, leave excess packaging in the shop and tell them why you are doing it

  7. Always ask for paper bags if you need them and refuse plastic ones–take your own with you.

  8. Develop a TTL ‘good practice’ sticker for shops, takeaways and cafes who are making an effort?

  9. Encourage local coffee bars to have a loyalty scheme or offer a reduction to customers who take their own cups (some places in London already offer 50p off a coffee if you bring your own cup)

  10. Encourage local businesses and cafes to advertise when they are making an effort–apparently the cafe in the Lister Hospital uses biodegradeable take-away packaging–who knew?

  11. Leave ‘calling cards’ in cafes etc with helpful information to get them thinking e.g. resouces page of ‘

  12. Write to your MP to ask for standardisation of plastic packaging to aid national recycling – or eliminate it altogether.

Useful websites:

An “A to Z” directory of what you can recycle, c/o WasteAware:; ; ; (US shop)

 Do get in touch with us if you have any other ideas or want to share your plastic-free experiences.

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